You ever have a friend who for whatever reason just can’t take a joke? Sure you do. Now apply that to an entire football club and you end up with a situation like what Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is facing today.
Pochettino was speaking to a Spanish radio station yesterday about Spurs’ preparations for the upcoming Champions League final against Liverpool in Madrid on June 1. When asked about Spurs’ training location in Madrid next week, rumored to be Ciudad Real Madrid in Valdebebas, Pochettino made what was an obvious joke about his past links to the Real Madrid managerial position, which he turned down last summer.
Pochettino to @partidazocope last night: "We'll train at Valdebebas but we won't sleep there. We asked but Florentino wouldn't let us. He'd say, 'the day you coach Madrid is the day you can sleep there'."— Tom Allnutt (@TomAllnuttAFP) May 24, 2019
Hahaha, it’s funny because Poch almost left Spurs last summer! It’s clearly a joke, as any communication between the clubs would likely have been done through UEFA and not from a purported phone call between Poch and Madrid president Florentino Perez. That Mauricio Pochettino, what a joker, right?
Well, Madrid didn’t think so. The club took the bizarre step of issuing an OFFICIAL STATEMENT on its website that took Pochettino’s comments at 100% face value, basically accusing Pochettino of lying.
“Real Madrid CF wants to make it clear that it is outright false that this request was made. Our club has always shown its absolute availability to meet all the requests made by Uefa, the Royal Spanish Football Federation, Club Atlético de Madrid, Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur.
“All requests submitted to Real Madrid have referred only and exclusively to the use of the training camps of the Ciudad Real Madrid and its changing rooms. And all of them have been granted by our club.
“Thus, Liverpool plan to train at our facilities on Saturday, June 1 in the morning. Tottenham, for its part, will do so on Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31.
“Real Madrid CF also wants to emphasise that the accommodation of the finalist teams of the Champions League are assigned by Uefa following criteria of organisation and security. And that at no time has our club been requested that these teams could be accommodated in the facilities of Ciudad Real Madrid.”
— Official statement, Real Madrid C.F.
It’s a strange move from a club that really should know better. What’s not clear is whether this statement is coming directly at the behest of Perez, or whether it’s an... let’s call it “overly zealous” Madrid official trying to head off any potential criticism. But it’s still weird, because it’s very clearly a joke made out of affection by Mauricio Pochettino, and I can’t imagine anyone taking it as anything but a joke.
It does make you wonder however whether this will impact the relationship between Pochettino and Madrid, and whether it could mean Pochettino is less likely to fill hypothetical future openings at the Bernabeu. Or, perhaps Madrid is stung by Pochettino’s past rejection and this statement comes out of that disappointment. Who knows! What it does signify is that Real Madrid are a bunch of unfunny grumps.
Interestingly, Cartilage Free Captain got ahold of a couple of earlier drafts of Real Madrid’s statement in reference to other attempts at humor that Mauricio Pochettino has made in the past. We are posting them here in the interest of clarity and transparency.